Friendship Buds as Translator Helps Ryu Hyun-jin Adapt

      August 08, 2013 08:27

      In his new capacity as interpreter for Ryu Hyun-jin, Martin Kim is used to eating with the Los Angeles Dodgers' pitcher after games and taking him on shopping trips on his days off. The 34-year-old, who joined the club two years ago as a marketer in charge of attracting sponsors, said he is surprised at how quickly Ryu has adapted to life in the U.S., both in the major leagues and off the field.

      Kim, who majored in international business and marketing at George Washington University before taking a job at a consulting company in the U.S., said he thinks of Ryu as a close friend rather than just as a player. He tries to accommodate all of his requests and has been helping take care of his day-to-day needs since the beginning of the season.

      "I already feel rewarded as Hyun-jin has adapted quickly and has been putting in strong performances for the club," said Kim, adding that the player likes to unwind by chatting with him over some coffee.

      Martin Kim (right) poses with Ryu Hyun-jin (left) during a practice session before an away game at Wrigley Field in Chicago last Saturday, while teammate Juan Uribe tries to cut in.

      Kim was also pivotal in organizing a recent event dubbed "Korea Day," which was held on July 28 at the end of a four-game series between the Dodgers and the Cincinnati Reds. It was put on by the Dodgers and the Korean tourism authorities. "I helped make all the preparations for that, as I see promoting Korea to baseball fans in the U.S. as my duty," he said.

      Kim's parents immigrated to Argentina in the 1970s. His father used to be a teacher and gave him a strict upbringing during which he was never allowed to forget his Korean identity. "If I didn't talk to my father in Korean, he wouldn't answer me when I was young," said Kim. "I couldn't understand my father back then, but now I do and I'm thankful."

      "These days, Hyun-jin is relaxed and confident enough to urge me to take a break when he heads off for away games, saying he can handle it alone," Kim said. "He's a really nice guy."

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